Rossini: Aureliano in Palmira
Aureliano in Palmira is an operatic dramma serio in two acts written by Gioachino Rossini to an Italian libretto in which the librettist was credited only by the initials "G. F. R." The libretto has generally been attributed to Felice Romani, but sometimes to the otherwise unknown Gian Francesco Romanelli. It has been suggested that the latter name may have resulted from a confusion of Romani with Luigi Romanelli, La Scala's house poet prior to Romani's appointment to the post.
The story was based on the libretto by Gaetano Sertor for Pasquale Anfossi's 1789 opera Zenobia in Palmira and it centers on the rivalry between the Roman Emperor Aurelian and Prince Arsace of Persia over the beautiful Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra.
The act 1 duet between Zenobia and Arsace, "Se tu m'ami, o mia regina" (If you love me, oh my queen), was greatly admired by Stendhal. Although he had never seen a complete performance of Aureliano in Palmira, he heard the duet in a concert in Paris and described its music as "sublime" and one of the best duets that Rossini had written. Other music from this opera, particularly the overture, was later reused by Rossini in Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra and in The Barber of Seville.